Do you ever read children’s books or stories you used to read as a kid and wonder how in the hell you’re as normal or decently adjusted as you are? Because. Whoa. I do.
The other morning while I was cleaning Matty’s room I found a book of children’s fables that used to be mine. And because nothing’s mine anymore (amiright?), Matty caught a glimpse of a troll as I flipped through the pages and was ALL up in my business.
“Whassdat? Whassdat, Mama? What iz dat!?”
“It’s a book of stories.”
“There’s a bear in der?”
“It’s a troll.”
“A trooooll??? You read it, Mama?”
And so, without time to brush up on my fables, I flipped through and picked The Little Red Hen. Now, it has been for-ev-er since I’ve read The Little Red Hen but let me just say AMEN. That is one C (chicken) I can get behind, a mama after my very own heart. She gave ZERO fucks about not feeding those lazy little farm animals and she didn’t feel obligated to apologize for it. “Oh, no you won’t!” If I had a daughter, she’d have a ROOM dedicated to that hen. YAS, QWEEN, YAS. But since I don’t, I’ll just keep trying to teach my boys not to be a lazy cat.
So after feeling extremely empowered by The Little Red Hen and hoping Matty would feel empowered to help me clean his room (HAHAHA), I moved on to the next story which was The Three Billy Goats Gruff. I mean, this fable’s okay. Ok, fine, overall it sends a good message, right? Don’t be a bully and if you’re going to pick a fight, pick it with someone your own size. And maybe it’s better to work together? And maybe brains are better than braun even though in the end braun does ultimately win. My only thing about it is, I don’t think it’s necessarily obvious that the three brothers worked together to come up with this plan and therefore leaves up for debate whether or not they were selfishly throwing their brothers under the bridge (see what I did there?) with the assumption that they’d win. I mean, since I’m an optimist, I guess I’ve always just assumed they had a plan all along. But, is Matty??? Um, hard to say. Knowing him, he’d be like, “No! Wait for my bruder, he’s slower! I’m too FAST! ROOOOOOAAAAAR!”
I mean, the truth is the truth.
At bedtime that night, we continued our story quest with The Three Little Pigs. Let’s be serious, this story is practically a combination of the other two. There’s one strong character like The Little Red Hen (the smart pig), two brothers who’s intelligence is questionable and who may or may not be loyal and one dumb bully who eventually gets swallowed up by a pot of boiling water. The smart brother ends up caring for his brothers and putting them up for life where they, I’m assuming, lived happily ever after in his sturdy brick home. It’s a little annoying and the lesson is hardly valuable but it could be much worse – queue the next fable.
Our last story of the night was The Gingerbread Man. Get ready. So we all know the general gist – there’s this cookie and it runs away – but do you know the details? The story starts with this old couple whom have always wanted a child of their own and so to fill her void, the old woman decides to bake a *literal* gingerbread cookie in the shape of a boy (sort of). Please note, she didn’t bake – like – a bunch of cookies and one ran away – she baked ONE cookie. Nobody does that! Except Annie in Bridesmaids did bake AND decorate just one cupcake for her sad self and I never thought anyone did that either. So, maybe I’m wrong? Anyway, when the woman opens the oven, the cookie jumps up and runs away from the old couple (which, to be fair, so would I). As he’s running away he becomes the object of desire to every person and animal he runs past – so much so, that they all join the old couple in chasing him. Like, at one point an entire group of men stop working and start chasing this gingerbread cookie. The cookie taunts everyone the whole way AND, it should also be noted, he self-identifies himself as a man – not a boy – in his ridiculous chanting.
At this point in the story I was like, I fucking hate this. First of all, there is no “hero” so to speak; nobody is good. The old couple is delusional, everyone else is so greedy they’re chasing someone else’s fucking cookie through a forest and the cookie itself self-identifies as an arrogant man and is annoying as hell. And THEN you meet the fox, maybe the worst of all of them, who cons the gingerbread man into allowing him to take him across the river to safety only to basically tread water in the middle of the river, wait for everyone else who was chasing the cookie to arrive at the riverbank and then throw his head back, flipping the cookie into the air and RIGHT INTO HIS MOUTH as everyone watches him.
I basically had the same feeling when I finished reading The Gingerbread Man that I did when Gone Girl – the movie – ended. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!
There was a long pause before Matty said anything and then he looked up at me, snuggled in between my arms, with a look of confusion and a little twinge of terror.
“What happened to de gingerbread man, Mama?”
“The fox ate him, buddy.”
“The fox just ate him????”
And then there was another long pause.
“WE NOT BITE, FOX! BITING IZ NOT NICE, FOX!!!!!!!!!”
If only Matty could swear.
For Bot’s birthday, a friend gave him a copy of The Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly. I literally don’t have the energy to get into it, but let me just say the illustrations are very literal. And there’s this one line that gets me every time:
“She just opened her throat and swallowed a goat.”
And as a reminder, she also eats a bird, a cat, a dog and a cow. Whole. Just opens her throat.
I’m |this| close to getting into the children’s literature game.
WATCH OUT READING RAINBOW, I’M BRINGING THE REAL GEMZ.